29 January 2013
On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet.
– Lord Byron, in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, canto III, stanza 22 (full text)
The noise became increasingly louder. Something was going on outside the walls of the triple church-cathedral of Cusco, Peru, that I had entered a few minutes earlier. The louder it became the more impatient I was in wanting to get out. But I had paid for that relatively pricey entrance ticket, I had to see what there was to be seen inside the church. As if to tease me more, the noise had transformed into music – maybe a demonstration or an impromptu concert? I tried to reassure myself, I said to myself, “nah, it won’t last”, “by the time I get out, it will be over, let me enjoy what I’ve been coming here for”, or thinking the opposite a second later, “it will last long enough, I’ll still be able to enjoy it afterwards”.
But, of course, I couldn’t resist. I botched my visit in the church, in which pictures were anyway forbidden (my weak excuse), and hurried outside. My eyes took a few seconds to adjust to the stark light. People had amassed themselves on the main square of Cusco, of course named Plaza de Armas, probably just like every town square in Peru. I wasn’t to be disappointed: men and women of all ages had dressed up colourfully for the festival of “our” Lady of the Rosary. An extremely joyful atmosphere had impregnated the city – even the priest was dancing – leading me to run up and down the line of dancers during the three hours the parade lasted. That’s also when I discovered a weakness for thigh-high boots, check the pictures :-).
PS1. Here’s a glimpse of the festival in a short video (not shot by me):
PS2. Lord Byron’s poem describes the travels and thoughts of a young man who, disillusioned with a life of pleasure and partying, looks for distraction by travelling to foreign lands (mostly in southern and south-eastern Europe).